Analytical philosophy has failed miserably to make any sort of significant impact on North American popular culture. The various popular “intellectual” forums and “discourses” in North America are replete with conceptual muddles, fallacies, and nonsense.
Libresco’s sensationalist disavowal of atheism and announcement of conversion to Catholicism is a good illustration of these features of popular “intellectual culture” in North America.
A religious conversion is not like the silly business of changing your allegiance to a new brand of clothing. It is a critical transforming event, for good or bad, marked by a close and deep encounter with death, loss, tragedy, despair, loneliness, and/or their opposites.
Libresco’s “conversion” has none of these features.
Does it then have at least a significant and redeeming “moment of insight” underlying it? Hardly.
What transpired, on her own account, and led to her “conversion” is riddled with philosophical nonsense.
She said to a friend “I guess Morality just loves me or something.” (I should have expected that someone in North America would one day go so far as to actually personify “Morality” and include it among the persons they wish truly loved them!).
She then took “a second” to decide that she truly believed that “Morality” loved her! Spellbinding philosophical virtuosity indeed!
She goes on to add “I believed that the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth, abstract and distant. It turns out I actually believed it was some kind of Person, as well as Truth. “
It is the trademark of bad philosophy that it uses language with no concern for what the words mean, or, worse, whether they mean anything at all.
“the Moral Law”? What is it? It’s simply a set of moral principles which imply judgments of right and wrong pertaining to human action or conduct.
To claim that a set of moral principles is “some kind of Person, as well as Truth” is utter nonsense or baloney.
And what could it possibly mean to say that a set of moral principles is or is not “just a Platonic truth”?
What is this “Platonic truth” anyway?
There is just truth. There is no such thing as “Platonic truth”, “Aristotelian truth”, “Hegelian truth”, “Augustinian truth”, and so forth. Those are just figments of philosophical megalomania.
Perhaps, in using the expression “Platonic truth”, Libresco is striving to refer to Plato’s bizarre metaphysical theory of “forms” according to which “forms” or concepts exist in an unchanging world transcending the natural world.
Yes, indeed! How could particular cars possibly come into existence if there were not a “form” or concept of car subsisting changelessly in a mysterious and unchanging world, accessible only to the “Platonic elite”, over and above this imperfect world in which those particular cars come into existence, undergo wear and tear, and are finally reduced to scrap metal in a junkyard? Right!!!
In any case, it is also utter nonsense to claim that a set of moral principles is “just a Platonic truth” or that it isn’t “just a Platonic truth”.
In Plato’s view, there is a “Form of the Good” which is the basis of all other “forms”. Our moral values and principles ultimately derive from and owe their existence to this “Form of the Good”.
Perhaps, this is the point Libresco was alluding to in the convoluted claim that “the Moral Law wasn’t just a Platonic truth”. And her claim, to render it intelligible, is that she did not believe that our moral values and principles ultimately derive from and owe their existence to this supremely abstract “Form of the Good”.
What, then, did she believe?
Well, that our moral principles and values constitute “some kind of a Person”!
To repeat, this is just nonsense. One might as well claim that our legal and political principles and so forth are also “some kind of Persons”.
Perhaps, she intends to convey, by means of her nonsensical claims, the point that she believes that there is some kind of “Person” embodying in his nature and actions these moral values and principles?
Who is this “Person”? That’s no mystery. It has to be “God”, or perhaps, his “Only Begotten Son”, Jesus Christ!
But if one wants to play this personification game, then, given the fact that there are diverse and conflicting moral values and principles, doesn’t it make more sense to believe that there must be diverse “Persons”, or divinities, or Gods, each embodying a moral value and/or principle?
Why should one believe that there is a single “Person” who embodies diverse and conflicting moral values and principles, e.g., absolute justice and unconditional love, rather than that there are diverse “Persons” who embody different values and principles?
Why not believe that there is a God of Love, a Goddess of Justice, and so forth?
In fact, the notion that there is one “Person”, God, or Jesus Christ, who embodies in his character and actions “the Moral Law”, or diverse and conflicting moral values and principles, e.g., absolute justice and unconditional love, has the implication that this “Person” embodies contradictions and undergoes conflict, and , hence, is imperfect in his nature!!!
And an imperfect God is logically impossible in just the way a square circle is.
Therefore, Libresco’s attempt to argue for, or avow a belief in, the existence of a being which embodies conflicting moral values and principles leads to the shocking conclusion that this being, even if it actually exists, cannot be the God of theism, and particularly of Catholicism, since it would be an imperfect being!
And, in light of all this, what could one possibly say about her alleged “conversion” based on the kind of “belief “she avows?
An important question pertaining to her “conversion” is this: Why convert to Catholicism rather than Mormonism or Protestantism? Why convert to a sect of Christianity rather than Islam? (Incidentally, I wonder about the reaction in ultra-tolerant North America had she announced a conversion to Islam!)
All of these religions hold the belief, or imply, that God is morally perfect.
Therfore, if it’s all about the notion of a being embodying moral perfection, why should one choose Catholicism over Protestantism, or even over Islam?
Actually, if one is driven by the need to believe in a being embodying moral perfection, then Christianity is the wrong choice!
The notion that God condemns you to eternal damnation for disbelief in “Him” is central to Christianity.
Whatever it is, such a being cannot be all-loving or morally perfect.
There are great human beings who would put this God of Catholicism to shame!
Hence, even if there is a good reason to think that there is a being, God, embodying moral perfection, this doesn’t justify conversion to Catholicism.
Notice also that if the existence of “Morality” justifies belief in a “Person”, God, embodying it, then the existence of “Immorality” equally justifies belief in a “Person”, Satan, embodying it.
What a neat proof, a la Gödel, of the “Truth” of Catholicism!!!